When a private golf and country club transitions into a semi-private club owned by a town, it encounters a set of distinct challenges.
Firstly, the club could face difficulties in adapting to a new governance structure. The shift from private ownership to municipal ownership entails adjusting to the decision-making processes and policies of a public entity, which may differ significantly from those of a private organization.
The Town of Harrison, NY has shown that with the right mission and management partner that the private to public change can be accomplished successfully. The Town purchased the former Willow Ridge Country Club and rebranded it as Harrison Meadows. This move aims to revitalize the golf course and bring new opportunities for both residents and visitors.
To ensure the success of Harrison Meadows, the Town of Harrison has enlisted the expertise of Indigo Sports, a division of Troon Golf to operate the facility. Troon is a renowned golf management company known for its exceptional service and commitment to excellence. With Troon’s involvement, Harrison Meadows is poised to become a premier destination for Harrison’s golf enthusiasts.
General Manager Patrick Wynn understands that to maximize the customer experience at a public golf course, it is imperative to provide exceptional food and beverage offerings. Wynn has added a pair of well-seasoned club food and beverage experts to his management team with the addition of Food & Beverage manager Matthew Bower and Executive Chef Adam Lakis to operate the public restaurant and catering at the club, aptly named The Meadows Social Kitchen and Bar.
“Great food and beverage options have the potential to greatly enhance the overall experience for golfers and guests,” Wynn noted. “By offering a diverse and high-quality menu, the golf course can cater to the varying tastes and preferences of our customers. Our Troon team also understands that efficient service ensures that golfers can enjoy their meals without disrupting their game.”
The club’s restaurant that overlooks the golf course, has opened its doors to club members and to the public. “In addition to our dining spaces, we have a 3100-square-foot outdoor patio, which is heated and usable for much of the year,” Bower said. The patio offers amazing views of the golf course and the beautiful Westchester landscape.
Overlooking the breathtaking golf course, this historic spot offers both privacy and spaciousness. Guests enjoy a contemporary American-style menu infused with a modern twist. The approach is simple: they offer eclectic plates in a sleek ambiance setting combined with unique creative cocktails. “We have unique advantage in the non-golfing public can join us is a facility that was for many years accessible only to members,” Lakis noted.
With The Harrison Meadows Grand Ballroom, the facility offers new option for full range of events from weddings to business meetings. “We have an outstanding space with up to 250 guest capacity and top-notch, experienced staff that share the same goal to execute events flawlessly,” noted Bower. “Chef Lakis has created a special events menu that features crowd-pleasers offerings from handcrafted appetizers, and entrees from pasta to shellfish to grilled steaks.”
Wynn and the Troon Management team knew that Lakis brought the perfect blend of a la carte and catering experience to their team at Harrison Meadows. Lakis caught the hospitality bug as a teenager. That passion morphed into a 20 plus year career that included being mentored by top chefs at NYC’s Pierre Hotel. “One of the most important lessons I learned at the Pierre was the significance of using fresh, high-quality ingredients. It truly makes a difference in the final outcome of a dish,” Lakis said. His club career has included successful stops at Westchester’s Sleepy Hollow Country Club in Briarcliff Manor, where he led the culinary team for five years. That was followed by his role as Executive Chef at Larchmont Yacht Club.
“Adding Chef Lakis to our team is a testament to our dedication to providing an exceptional dining experience at Harrison Meadows. We are confident that his culinary prowess will cement our position as a premier destination for food enthusiasts,” Wynn added. “His ability to create a private club quality experience in a public setting will exceed the expectations of our guests.”
“The goal with our menus is to combine flavors, textures, and presentation to offer a delightful culinary experience from a simple burger on the deck to the entree for a wedding. It’s about pushing boundaries and experimenting with different ingredients to create unique and unforgettable dishes,” Lakis explained.
One of the keys to Lakis building a portfolio of successful club kitchens is his approach to building a culinary and front of house staff. “It requires finding individuals who are passionate about food, dedicated to providing exceptional service, and committed to working as a team to deliver outstanding dining experiences,” Lakis explained. “It’s up to me to continue to coach them to grow creatively.”
To accomplish his goals, Chef Adam understands the importance of designing a kitchen that gives his team the flexibility to consistently create the highest quality a la carte and special event menu offerings. “My go-to has always been Tom Capobianco and his HAFSCO team. They really understand what we need in terms of design and equipment package to create a functional and efficient workspace,” Lakis noted.
“We want Harrison Meadows to be a center piece of the Harrison community,” Wynn concluded. “We understand how vital getting food and beverage right is toward accomplishing that goal.”